In 1949, a slight, young man fresh out of college with an engineering degree came to work at Buffalo Trace Distillery (then known as the George T. Stagg Distillery). His name was Elmer T. Lee, and little did anyone know, but he would become a legend in the bourbon industry—a master distiller, creating the world’s first single barrel bourbon in 1984 and revitalizing the bourbon industry.
After 36 years of service to Buffalo Trace Distillery, Elmer retired in 1985, but continued to travel the world as a bourbon ambassador for Buffalo Trace. He regaled bourbon fans with stories from his past, while educating them about the history and heritage of America’s native spirit. Shortly after his retirement Elmer was honored with his own namesake single barrel bourbon. Every week Elmer visited the Distillery in which he had spent so much of his life, went to the laboratory, and personally selected the barrels for his namesake brand.
Sadly, in 2013 Elmer died just a few weeks shy of what would have been his 94th birthday. Now, Buffalo Trace honors Elmer again with the release of a commemorative edition Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon at 93 proof, his age when he passed.
Selected from the same warehouse floors where Elmer liked to find his honey barrels for his namesake bourbon, the commemorative edition is packaged in the same square bottle as the standard Elmer T. Lee, but with an upscale black label with gold embossed lettering bearing Elmer’s signature. His distinctive profile adorns the front of the label while the back label details of Elmer’s life and his legacy.
“We’re remarkably fortunate to have known Elmer," says Kris Comstock, bourbon marketing director. "His contributions to the bourbon industry, Buffalo Trace Distillery, and all our lives are countless. We want to honor our friend and give back to his family and his favorite cause, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Profits from the sale of this commemorative edition Elmer T. Lee Bourbon will go to local VFW Post 4075, in which Elmer was active until the end.”
Elmer served as a radar bombardier in the United States Army Air Corps (now known as the United States Air Force) in World War II.
“The barrels selected for this bourbon taste much the same as the standard Elmer T. Lee bourbon in which he was so proud," Comstock says. "Barrels were tasted and carefully evaluated by the team at Buffalo Trace to ensure each had the smooth and balanced sweetness that Elmer T. Lee Bourbon fans have come to love."
The commemorative bottling of Elmer T. Lee Bourbon will start arriving in stores this April. Quantities of this one-time offering are very limited. Suggested retail pricing is $34.99. Production of the standard Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon will continue as barrels come of age and are deemed worthy of Elmer and his legacy.
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